Investing in education

Cardno’s Davin Slade explains how enrolling in a Centre for Pavement Engineering Education Masters degree has many flow-on effects for the company and his personal development.Going back to study while working full-time can be a daunting prospect, but for Davin Slade it was a unique opportunity – one he jumped at the chance to do.

“About four years ago, my boss at the time wanted to investigate new pathways to help grow the team and bring more benefits to what we do,” says Mr. Slade, who works as Principal Geotechnical Engineer at Cardno.

“Before I started the course, our in-house pavement design mainly specialised in new subdivision and arterial pavements. We had been looking to broaden our offering in the pavement design space, specifically in regards to pavement remediation, which we had been subcontracting out.”

While the team already had the knowledge and experience to broaden its technical abilities in the space, Mr. Slade says the company sought an appropriate pavement design course that could reinforce those abilities and provide the matching qualifications.

“It was more a matter of enhancing the capabilities of the team and pick up some new concept and design methods, which was an area we identified as being quite easy to bring in-house,” he says.

Having undertaken Centre for Pavement Engineering Education (CPEE) short courses previously and keen on the opportunity to help bring more experience to the Cardno team, Mr. Slade put his hand up to take the Masters Degree Program and relay the lessons he learnt.

“We’re working in an area where we can pick up information, but one of the things about the CPEE courses is that they contain comprehensive lessons using expertise and up-to-date knowledge from the industry with respect to conventional pavement design.

“Through our ongoing work with VicRoads, we found out that they were also recommending the CPEE courses as an option to their own staff. With a road agency seeing value in the courses, we saw it was probably one of the better ways to go,” Mr. Slade says, adding that Cardno subsequently decided CPEE was the right education provider for them.

“The thing that got me specifically into the Master of Pavement Technology course was that it is a fully accredited Masters degree on par with other Australian universities.”

For the past four years, Mr. Slade has been studying via correspondence part time to complete his Masters. While adamant that it has been no easy task to balance his full-time career and part-time study, he says the adaptability of the CPEE course has helped facilitate his development.

“The course is really flexible and distance learning means you can quite easily select the pathway you want to follow, which was really good for me. The degree is broken down into a few main areas with various units to choose from, depending on which sector is the most relevant for the individual. For me, it was pavement design.

“Because it’s done by correspondence, there isn’t much interaction between you and those running the course, so it does come down to your own self-drive and motivation, and that really shows in your results,” he says, adding that such courses need to be thought of as a long-term investment, not just for the individual but the team they’ll share the learnings with.

For two years in a row, Mr. Slade has received a CPEE Student Excellence Awards due to his outstanding performance in the unit he was studying.

“It’s a really big commitment, which meant I spent basically every minute of my spare time making sure I was across my studies. But I’m very glad that I did put in a good bit of hard work and I’m hoping for a good result with this final year of study.”

Since taking on the course, Mr. Slade says the lessons and technical experience gained has enabled Cardno to bring a selection of pavement design aspects in-house.

“We’ve managed to expand how we approach pavement design and build on our own knowledgebase. For the Cardno office I work within, it’s increased the scope of what we’re able to offer our clients. We’ve also been able to grow the team too, having brought on a number of new geotechnical pavement engineers to work within these expanded areas of the businesses.”

Mr. Slade says these types of courses and qualifications in general provide a number of immediate and long-term benefits, and recommends both individuals and organisations seeking to enhance their capabilities, find the right course for them.

“I’d say that courses such as this would help those wanting to work in the pavement industry by giving them a much broader understanding of pavement technology than they will get from just working in an office.”

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